“Why is that man wearing a diaper?”
“Over the last few days, I’ve been wondering something” says DC Matthews, “I’ve been wondering what made Dusty Rhodes so good.” DC discusses Dusty’s recent passing and how “easy and effortless” Dusty Rhodes made it look to be a professional wrestler. In truth it’s anything but effortless.
DC was comparing the departed legend to the New Age Insiders, podcast friends who were particularly good at making podcasting look effortless.
Every journey starts with the first step and this was Episode 1 for what would become DDT Wrestling. In fact it is the second first episode of the podcast, as DC himself explains, helming a podcast is “So much harder than being a writer… take one sounded like it was recorded on the runway of Newark International airport.”
Take One was recorded with the microphone too far away, two to three feet away, to be exact. The fact that DC was able to record a second first episode and go onto record several more is all down to Bill Neville of the New Age Insiders. DC rightfully heaps praise on the NAI podcast and tellingly declares their podcast to be “one that, I don’t think it’s an exaggeration, is far better than this one will ever be”
At that point in proceedings that statement was probably true, the New Age Insiders were flying high and DC’s podcast was not even five minutes old (3 minutes, 49 seconds, time fans).
In the embryonic stages of the podcast it was very much an arm of the bigger NAI monster, a wing of their house if you will. This wasn’t DC’s house yet, but that would come in time. This was the start of it all. The days of DC as NAI Chief of Staff, the days when the warm and cosy tones of Mr Rogers singing ‘It’s A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood’ beckoned us in for a closer listen.
DC talks about Ring of Honor, and Money in the Bank which takes place around the time of recording. We learn that Lex Luger is a giant man baby running around a wrestling ring, as DC watches the NWA archive, and lets us into the core of his beliefs when watching wrestling – “when everyone tells me something is good, I immediately feel like I can’t watch it”.
ROH is discussed, Cheeseburger is discussed, “why, why, why is his name Cheeseburger?”, Who is Moose? Why did he beat up Steve Corino’s kid?
Over in WWE, Money in the Bank is discussed, especially whiny Seth Rollins. “I want them to have a direction, I want them to know where they are going”.
“I would be the first in line to celebrate if I really thought Kofi Kingston could be a potential main event guy, it’s not going to happen”.
“This episode of the Naiborhood Podcast is brought to you by the Ultimate championships of fighting for championships that are won by fighting and when you win you get championships….”
This was a landmark day in the history of DDT because it marked a turning point. DC was no longer carrying the show on his own, the scripted reading had been and gone and here we have NAIborhood Episode 9, DDT in all but name.
This was Doc Manson’s first episode as co -host. An actual Doctor, Doc Manson introduces himself to the world. He joins DC to discuss their friendship which survived being room-mates, experienced weddings, wrestling websites, their time as ‘the Number Two Contenders’, Doc and the Texas Tornado, Macho Man and meeting Jake the Snake Roberts’ snake.
With his wrestling fan credentials, and both his improv and actual real-life science qualifications revealed the two eventually discuss the then current issues in the wrestling world.
Finn Balor does nothing for Doc, apart from his talent in the ring and his ring entrance. NXT gets discussed, Neville and Sami Zayn too. Hideo Itami and all his kicking awesomeness; the number two contenders believe that when Itami comes back it will lead to Finn Balor’s heel turn, which may help him as Balor worked well as a heel in Japan. They talk about those outside the WWE at that time, Maria and Mike Bennett, AJ Styles, Chris Daniels and “a guy called Adam Cole”, you watch him walk, talk and move and you see a really good pro-wrestler. Adam Cole is DC Matthews approved.
There’s a spectacular conversation about Uhaa Nation, who at this point was about to make his debut for NXT Takeover Brooklyn rebadged as Apollo Crews. This leads the listener down to the New Day via Terry Crews, Apollo Creed and TNA’s Consequences Creed (WWE’s very own Xavier Woods).
There is a spark in Episode 1, there is something in DC’s words, there is thought behind what is spoken and believe it or not there is charm in the honesty that comes across when he acknowledges there is much to learn. By Episode 9 all of that is built upon by an obvious and undeniable chemistry with Doc. When they decide to talk about wrestling, they do so with insight and passion, and they acknowledge the faults that they see. As we know, honesty about often divisive content can be a tightrope to walk because it can lead hosts down one-way streets of negativity and that is no fun to hear.
In the years to come Doc and DC would perfect the balancing act of wrestling and anything else; breakfast cereals, Halloween snacks, movies and car repair are just some of the topics discussed by them on this podcast. Believe me when I tell you, the audience would happily listen to DC and Doc read a phone book out loud if that is what they chose to do.
Brand can be a terrible term. Sure, it can start off innocently with the best of intentions but more often than not it is clouded and compromised, and it becomes a product. It ends up being something so far removed from what it was meant to be that it starts to eat itself. If you start by wanting to be a brand, you’re climbing up a waterfall, you’re starting the game three goals down.
If you start something you believe in, just you, you will take people with you.
During the first episode, DC said, “We’re on a journey together, you and I”, probably not realising back then how true those words would be, because we were, and we still are.
In Episode 9, DC is still deflating his own balloon, “If you had asked me if I thought we’d make it to episode ten, I would have said yes” he says, “ but I would have also said that no-body was listening”.
People were listening. People still are listening. In fact, the DDT Community is strong, vocal and more connected to that podcast than anyone can imagine. The mission statement was there from day one, it is a journey – it goes wherever it goes and it takes listeners along for the ride. Doc Manson got a job offer in his debut episode, he came straight back to tell the listeners and his friend DC. That is an investment, it may be unintentional, but it is an investment in the journey DC talked about.
Incidentally, Episode 9 was made available the day before Mrs Manson’s birthday and if that is not enough to make you smile there is an early mention of GQ in Episode 9 too. Both are people that would go onto play huge parts in the DDT universe, the podcast, and the community.
In episode 9, Doc Manson says he wants WWE to have “faith in the backstory, the fiction told, you have to trust the organic push”.
He concludes by saying that “You do not manufacture your stars; they just happen, and you have to recognise that and get behind them”.
This is also true of podcasts. Long may DDT reign.
© Simon Andrew Moult 2020 for DDT Wrestling.